Young author Carrie Berk has recipe for success


Carrie Berk loves everything about cupcakes, especially coming up with wild flavors and decorations. The book that she wrote with her mother deals with school, friendships and other issues that kids face; it also includes recipes. (HEIDI GREEN PHOTOGRAPHY)
April 10, 2012

What do you get when you take a 9-year-old girl who loves cupcakes — and who helps other students in her New York City school solve their problems — and you add in her mom, a professional writer?

The answer: “Peace, Love and Cupcakes” by Sheryl Berk (the mom) and Carrie Berk (the 9-year-old).

The just-published book is the first of four planned for The Cupcake Club series.

KidsPost’s Tracy Grant recently spoke to the mother-and-daughter team about how they came up with the idea for the book, what their writing process is like and — mostly — about cupcakes.

So whose idea was this series of books?


Carrie: I was having a sleepover with my friend, and she was reading something and said, “Wouldn’t a cupcake book be good?” So I started to write down what the characters and the plot would be, and I showed it to my mom.

Why are cupcakes so special?

Carrie: Cupcakes have the decoration, the frosting, the filling and the cake. Other desserts, like brownies, don’t have the other elements.

This story is also about a serious topic for kids, bullying. How did you decide to write about that? Carrie: In school, I’m a peer mediator, and I go around and talk to kids and see if they have problems. I learned the problems that kids have and wanted to use that in the book. . . . Bullying is one of the biggest problems that kids have. There are also friend problems, and in the second book [we get into that].

Sheryl: She’s taught to look for bullying [at school]. She knows how to resolve conflict. This was something she really wanted to deal with in the book.

So how does the writing work?

Carrie: We do a lot of talking about how the story’s going to go. Then I watch “Cupcake Wars,” and I write down all the crazy flavors so I can include them. [The books have recipes in them as well.] Mom writes a first draft, and then I get to read through it. I edit it. She takes my edits, and she adds them . . . then we’ll have a second draft.

Sheryl: This is what I do for a living; I collaborate with people on books. I wanted it to sound like her. She can spot fake dialogue a mile away. Even the things that I had the teacher say, she would correct and say, “My teacher would never say that.” We try to keep the book very true to her experiences, her friends. It’s very easy for us to come up with these stories because this is what she’s going through.

So you study ballet, you write books — and a cupcake blog. What would you like to be when you grow up? A ballerina, a baker or a writer?

Carrie: A writer!

And finally, you must tell us, what’s your favorite kind of cupcake?

Carrie: Definitely a red velvet cupcake. I just love cream cheese frosting. One of my favorites is from Georgetown Cupcake.

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